Warnings. This past month I have been blessed to spend some time with my daughter who lives in Arlington, Virginia. Outside of the condo building where she lives is a walking and bike path. One day we decided to go check it out. The path itself is nothing unusual – a strip of black asphalt with a divided yellow line down the middle. But the scenery around the path was so refreshing to a California girl, like me. Lush greenery and bushes with little flowers of different shapes and colors sprinkled all along the path and birds outnumbered walkers 3 to 1. There were many of us walking on the path that day. Some of us had nothing more than our own legs to power us along. Some were pushing strollers. Some rollerblading Some being walked by their dogs. And then there were the bike riders.
The first time I heard one it startled me. The sharp sound of a bell followed by a shout, “Left!”
“What’s that?” I asked my daughter.
“Bike rider,” she said, “they are warning you that they are coming up on the left.”
So we quickly took a small step to the right so we weren’t in danger of being hit.
“I like that,” I said. “Warning. That’s a good thing. Especially when you are on a crowded path like this and distracted by good conversation. Warnings are good.”
I pondered that as we walked along, as we occasionally stepped to the right to get out of the way of a passing biker or jogger. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had warnings in everyday life for unexpected events?
Wouldn’t it be great if you heard a little “ring, ring” before you got that call.
“Can you come to my office? The company is downsizing and I need to talk to you.”
“I know this is unexpected, but your mother is in the hospital.”
“I’m sorry, the test results show cancer.”
Seems like a warning would be a good thing. But upon more reflection, I wonder if in all circumstances that is true.
Sure, a warning is swell when you might be hit by a bike, or an oncoming car, or you may overdraw your bank account. But is knowing about a life changing event ahead of time really a good thing? I suppose if we knew that something life changing were going to happen to us or to a loved one, we might do some things differently. We might make preparations to make life easier for others. We might decide to spend more quality time with those we love. We might choose our activities a lot more carefully.
But if we did get a warning, would we waste time and energy worrying about something we couldn’t change? Would we live in the past with regret or in the future with longing rather than living in the present with gratitude? I think that could be true for me, what about you?
For better or for worse, we won’t get a warning bell before the unexpected forces us to take a small or big step to the right.
Ring, ring! Ring, ring! Consider that your warning bell. Live to expect the unexpected. Not in worry or fear – that is not what I am talking about. Rather, live in a way that minimizes regret. You have the ability to choose, right now, how you will spend your time, what activities you will engage in, whether or not you will draw closer to loved ones. Let’s try to live that way, after all, we’ve all been warned.
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14